Interview For Intermission Magazine
By Dane Kurth
Translated By Eduardo De Souza Bonadia
After the release of the latest album "Master Of The Rings", Helloween went to an european tour that proved to be the most successful one in years. Their former singer Michael Kiske proved himself to be very unpopular among the most loyal european and japanese fans and with his replacement by Andi Deris (former Pink Cream 69) we could see a new and great era for the band. The chat below was done with guitarists Michael "Weiki" Weikath and Roland Grapow and drummer Uli Kusch.
Interviewer: Who were you thinking about when you wrote "Mr. Ego"? Maybe it was a man with the initials K. U. W., from Berlin [Karl Ulrich Walterbach, Noise's owner, who left the band without concerts and recordings for two years]?
Michael Weikath: No, not really. We were talking to him again.
Interviewer: Then could it be M. K. [former singer Michael Kiske]?
Michael Weikath: Absolutely right! We will talk more about him in the future.
Interviewer: And who's the "Perfect Gentleman"?
Uli Kusch: None of us, just a fictional character on the story we thought.
Interviewer: Why did you change your recording company? After this confusion with Noise four years ago you were hired by EMI and now by Castle.
Michael Weikath: Well, EMI said we didn't sell enough records for their taste. They had to pay a lot of pre-production costs and sadly we weren't able to sell enough albums for them to have their money back. The fans were dissapointed. First with "Pink Bubbles Go Ape", and now with "Chameleon". We still sold 400.000 copies of "Chameleon", but we made a deal with EMI and changed our label.
Interviewer: Were you able to pay the great amount of money that Court made you give to Noise?
Michael Weikath: Well, Walterbach had some rights over "Chameleon" and released a compilation, "The Best, The Rest, The Rare". I believe we'll be able to pay him with some profits from "Master Of The Rings", which has been selling very well here so far. It's a lot of money, millions of german marks, but we'll get rid of it soon!
Interviewer: Your current singer, Andi Deris, is still under contract with Warner Chappel. Does that mean that there's still some financial echo from his time with Pink Cream 69?
Michael Weikath: There's no problem. And they're happy with the situation of having some rights over the new album as well. They were very friendly about him leaving Pink Cream 69 for Helloween. They could have created problems for both bands, but they didn't.
Interviewer: What does that band have to do with rings? Where the album title came from?
Uli Kusch: Well, truth is that Weiki looked at the mirror one morning and saw sings around his eyes...
Michael Weikath: They represent the mysterious forces of nature. Well, the story is that one I wrote on the booklet of the album. I wrote, but I forgot it. I have awful memory. But everything happened a long time ago.
Interviewer: The last tour you made for "Chameleon" was a terrible failure. The album sales were very weak and it received a lot of critics from fans. Only two reviews in the whole world gave high grades to the work. I think that Michael Kiske had a lot of guilt on the whole story.
Michael Weikath: I don't know, really. Looked like he just stayed static on stage, and when I said to him to move and give a better impression to the audience, he said that I was diminishing his authority on stage. I didn't find that fun, because he did his acts on stage, and they weren't spontaneous like before, he just was just standing still to sing better, and that showed us that the songs from "Chameleon" weren't good for shows. I understand, the album could be interesting, but on the eyes of the fans we weren't able to play it live. It was like rice for us: Sticky, but not tasty!
Interviewer: Andi sings very different from Kiske. Could Kiske be able to make justice on the material from "Master Of The Rings"?
Michael Weikath: No, not at all. That was the problem a lot of times. I had to write songs for him, and not for myself, because I knew that he couldn't sing the way I wanted it. The same with Roland. We had to cut a song off "Pink Bubbles Go Ape" called "I Don't Care, You Don't Care" because we thought "Not with this singer.". The americans would laugh all over the country! Then we used it as a b-side of a single and it could have been a great song for the album, but not with Kiske. He had no energy anymore and Andi can scream, shout and sing! He could sing like Kiske if he wanted, but he doesn't want to. He can sing on many different ways and I think this is very important for a singer.
Interviewer: And on the last tour, I think you noticed a totally different reaction from the fans considering that all concerts were sold out.
Roland Grapow: Absolutely, because the fans could see that we are enjoying what we're doing again, we're a team once more.
Michael Weikath: It was catastrophic, horrible! And that song with orchestra... He had that song arranged for us by the orchestra and left everyone thinking that he did it, that he was a great genius. But the song was arranged by someone who could do it. The song is good, I admit. When I wanted an orchestrated part on the intro for "Keeper", he said he didn't want it because it was something classical, then we cut it off. Really, we had the same problem with "Keeper 2", with "Eagle Fly Free" and "We Got The Right". He wanted to orchestrate "Right", although he knew for over an year that I wanted to orchestrate "Eagle". Then he said to me that I shouldn't get upset just because he was thinking about doing it with his song. I said we could orchestrate both, I had my song for over and year and that would upset nobody. I wanted to kick him out of the band for a long time, for the way he was behaving. We gave him a warning when "Pink Bubbles Go Ape" was being recorded. We said that if he kept
behaving that way we would kick him out of the band. Then, one month later, everything went back to be as always.
Roland Grapow: For me the last drop occurred during the last japanese tour. I said to Weiki and Markus: "This isn't good. We are on stage and people are looking at us like they were frightened at us. We are not 'putting our song on them'.". I was so ashamed on stage that I didn't know where to look...
Michael Weikath: During that tour we played seven concerts and cancelled the rest. Kiske said he had a throat illness, but we all thought it was panic. Your voice disappears when you are frightened or on panic.
Interviewer: Or because he was esoteric...
Roland Grapow: Well, with this esoteric shit his personality really changed. He wasn't the same person on stage, it was like those followers who make brainwash on you. He didn't have the rock n' roll feeling anymore and you could feel that on shows. He only wanted to play pop music, be just an entertainer and we would be his support band.
Michael Weikath: I didn't want to talk about that in details, but everyone knows how a personality changes being a religious fanatic. He wasn't exactly a follower, but something similar. You need to be careful for not to be destroyed for crap like this...
But Helloween changed things and fortunately they're doing again songs like the "good old times".